The Ramones first album was released on April 23, 1976. In those days I was a senior in high school with no car and the one record store in Hamtramck did not know who the Ramones were. Therefore, I rode my bike the 6 miles or so to Hazel Park where Harmony House (a local record store chain) would definitely have it in stock. Those 14 songs made me realize that rock & roll could be a lot of fun again. In 1977, I picked up a single by a band called Cinecyde. The address on the cover was from Royal Oak, Michigan and side 1 contained a song aptly called “Gutless Radio”. These two records, along with the a slew of other great bands opened my eyes to a life of loud guitars, screaming vocals, slam dancing, a ton of tiny dive bars with lousy sound and cheap beer – something that became known as “punk rock”.
Today punk is just another (albeit much superior) form of music, but back then it was just a catch-all phrase for anything that was original, weird or just didn’t fit into the cesspool of what was being played on the radio. This web site is just my own personal look into the world of punk as existed and continues to exist around Detroit. We have all changed a lot since 1976, but the music and the bands that made Detroit so great are still around – you just need to go find them.
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Agent Orange kept me up till 12:30 am on a Sunday night before they finally let me hear “Bloodstains”, but it was well worth it. “Bloodstains” is one of the greatest of the many awesome SoCal punk songs so I was more than happy to lose some sleep for that privilege.
Ugly Things #42 arrived in my mailbox last week and I have been happily immersed in the 152-page issue. UT is my favorite music magazine and it mostly covers music that I don’t listen to. It does cover punk as this issue has a story on the Weirdos and lots of reviews of punk records. However, most of the articles cover music from the 1960s. Some of it (garage/punk bands) is great but a disturbing number covers progressive rock, all sorts of strange psychedelic and folk rock interspersed with hippy influences. I wouldn’t listen to any of this, but I don’t mind reading about it. This issue has a spot-on review of “Under the Big Black Sun” written by John Doe & friends that covers the early LA punk scene. The reviews are always fantastic (30 pages worth) and our local heroes Cinecyde get a fine review for the Hate Records release of “You Live a Lie, You’re Gonna Die”. I also agree with the review of the Soul Jazz release “Chaos in the City of Angels & Devils – Punk in Los Angeles 1977-1981. Jeff Bale gets it right – this should have been split into two – the downtown LA scene around the Masque does not have much to do with the hardcore scene that followed in Orange County. I also have another bone to pick with these otherwise great compilations – how the hell does Iggy Pop wind up on a LA punk compilation? What am I missing here?
Enough – the Buzzcocks will re-open the Magic Stick next week and there is no finer way to return the Stick back to rock & roll!
One of the highlights of 2016 was the aptly-named “Detroit All-Star Garage Rock Punk Revue” that was held at the Lager House. Organized by Detroit’s own (now in Boston) Smitty – this was a spectacular evening filled with great music celebrating the history of rock & roll in Detroit. In another sense it brought back those magical nights at Bookie’s, Lili’s, Paychecks’s and other places together for one night again. Music from bands like Cinecyde, the Vertical Pillows, Algebra Mothers, Boners, Ramrods, Pleasure Seekers, Romantics and a bunch more once again came were bouncing off the walls of a Detroit bar. Of course, it was a joy seeing all those familiar faces and hearing those same crazy stories again and thinking of all those who aren’t around anymore. It was a fantastic night and we can only hope that it will be repeated in 2017.
A second highlight occurred when Alice Bag included Detroit on her short tour promoting her new album and showing that her attitude and talent are just as needed now as they were when she was in the Bags back in LA in the late 1970s. A few years ago, she wrote “Violence Girl, which is an excellent narrative about growing up a Latino woman in the LA punk scene. The show also included Detroit’s own Devious Ones and Leggy from Cincinnati. The Devious Ones are one of my favorite Detroit bands as they manage to bring back the glorious sound of the early punk era. It was a small crowd on a Monday night, but it was a blast. The final highlight was the chance to see X again as they played two nights at the El Club. If you weren’t there – you shouldn’t even be reading this. X was tremendous, the place was jammed so there’s really no excuse for missing this.